5 reasons to visit the Falkland Islands

  1. One of the best places in the world to see penguins – with five species and more penguins than people
  2. A birdwatcher's paradise with 200 recorded species of birds, including several endemics.
  3. Wild and unspoilt scenery, from white sandy beaches to rocky headlands
  4. The pocket-sized capital Stanley, with a wealth of history to explore
  5. A warm welcome from locals proud of their unique island outpost

Highlights of the Falkland Islands

Wildlife

A single rockhopper penguin stands on a rock surrounded by black-browed albatross at West Point in the Falkland Islands

A rockhopper penguin surrounded by black-browed albatross at West Point

If Falklands Islands vacations were easier to get to I have no doubt they would receive significantly more visitors each year. For birders in particular the islands are a fantastic destination: there are 227 recorded species here, with 59 regular breeders and two endemics to cross off the life list, including the Falkland steamer duck.

The change to see up to five of the world’s penguin species is also a major drawcard. Gentoo, magellanic, rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins are all found here. The chance to see groups of resplendent kings marching along empty white beaches is unique to the Falkland Islands and makes for truly great photo opportunities. Whales and dolphins are a common sight offshore and there's always the chance of seeing lazing sealions or giant elephant seals hauled up on the beaches, 

What makes the Falklands wildlife so special is how accessible it is. Many species have no fear of people and it’s far from uncommon for the patient observer to be approached by a curious penguin or inquisitive caracara, making for some unforgettable wildlife encounters during Falkland Islands cruises.

History

Aerial view of the shipwreck of the Lady Elizabeth in Whalebone Cove near Stanley, Falkland Islands

The wreck of the Lady Elizabeth near Stanley

The Falkland Islands have a long and frequently contested history. The unoccupied islands were first claimed by the British in the mid-18th century, but France and Spain both looked to exert their claims to the islands at different times. To this day the islanders remain fiercely loyal to the British crown, but Argentina has consistently maintained a claim to sovereignty to the islands that they continue to this day. In Spanish the islands are known as Las Malvinas.

In the middle of the 19th century Stanley was briefly one of the world’s ports as a stopping point on the trade routes between the Atlantic and Pacific around Cape Horn. At different times the islands made their living from whaling and sheep farming in relative obscurity until the 1982 war thrust them into the world spotlight.

While peace has long returned to these sleepy islands, vestiges of that time are still visible and many islanders still have their stories from the war – while having their faces set firmly to the future.

Places to visit

Tourists observe a colony of  black-browed albatrosses in the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are home to many black-browed albatross colonies

Which exact locations you visit in your cruise to the Falkland Islands depends on the weather, season and ship itinerary, making it impossible to guarantee where you’ll land. The only exception to this is Stanley: except under unusual circumstances ships will call in here for essential immigration checks.

From the extraordinary black-browed albatross colonies at West Point and New Island, there are some amazing places to see seabirds. For penguins, Carcass Island is famous for its magellanic colony, while there is the chance of seeing four species in one landing at Saunders Island. Bleaker Island is noted for its rockhoppers and sealions.

Taking a break from the wildlife, Stanley is a fascinating place to explore with its history, beautiful cathedral and traditional British pubs, as well as offering the chance to see shipwreck and visit nearby Gypsy Cove with its magellanic penguins.

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Cassia says

The Falklands Islands offer some amazing wildlife experiences that you just won't find anywhere else on the planet. They're so much more than just an extra to add on to a South Georgia and Antarctica cruise.

Cassia Jackson Polar Specialist

Planning your Falkland Islands trip

When to go

A photographer takes her shot of a black-browed albatross colony on Saunders Island in the Falkland Islands

It's possible to experience all four seasons in a day on the Falkland Islands

The visiting season for the Falkland Islands corresponds with the austral summer, runs through the austral summer months from the end of October to late March. The islands have a cold maritime climate, although it is far milder when compared to Antarctic temperatures.

Visiting at this time you can expect to see flowers in bloom such as the bright yellows of the island’s iconic gorse. This is also the time when animals breed, so depending on when you visit you have the chance to see penguins chicks, albatrosses on the nest or baby sealions.

Daytime temperatures during the summer season are typically around 50–55ºF (10-13ºC). Within this there can be tremendous variation, from light snow flurries to sunny days when a t-shirt is all you need. The only truly constant factor is the weather’s unpredictability.

How to choose your Falkland Islands voyage

Two tourists sit o the beach with gentoo penguins, looking at the Sea Spirit Antarctic Vessel, Falkland Islands

With gentoo penguins on a Falkland Islands beach

The Falkland Islands are typically visited as part of a longer cruise visiting South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. These are once-in-a-lifetime trips so finding the right voyage is crucial, so you'll want to carefully consider both the itinerary and the type of ship as well as your travel dates.

  • Itinerary Voyages typically spend between two days in the Falkland Islands as a warm up for South Georgia and Antarctica. The trips generally last between 16-20 days depending on the ship. A smaller number of itineraries concentrate on just the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, giving you more time to enjoy these destinations.
  • Ship type Given the amount of time you’ll be spending on the Southern Ocean, carefully choosing the right ship pays real dividends. For longer trips, it's definitely worth considering a little extra room when booking your cabin; balconies are an option on many ships. Larger ships can give more space, but smaller ships can mean more opportunities for landings and zodiac cruises.
  • Flights It is possible to fly to the Falkland Islands, so a few operators offer fly-sail cruises where you can join the ship in Stanley. These can be a great option for those looking to reduce their time at sea.
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What our customers think of The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands trips scored 4.5/5 from 251 reviews

10/10 - We are so happy that we included South Georgia and the Falklands. The landscape between Antarctica and South Georgia is so different, that I can only highly recommend to anyone considering this once-in-a-lifetime trip to not just focus on the Antarctic Peninsula and to include South Georgia and the Falklands. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Dirk Liepold - USA

So hard to pick our most memorable moment between that first thrill of wildlife at West Point with the albatross and rockhopper colony, the full day sitting amongst and soaking in all the wildlife at sunny Saunders Bay, or the Adelie penguin overload at Paulet island. Or maybe the excitement at seeing an orca pop up out of nowhere on New Year's Eve. It really is a trip of endless memorable moments that would each be the highlight of any other holiday. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Angus Townsend - UK

We would particularly recommend adding in the Falklands and South Georgia. The Falklands was such a lovely surprise and on top of Stanley and the history there the wildlife was amazing and as good as anything else we saw the whole trip. South Georgia lived up to its reputation for the greatest wildlife, plus its dramatic landscape and history. If you can then it is definitely the best itinerary to follow. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Angus Townsend - UK

One of my aims was to walk with king penguins and to see them in huge crowds. I did this. And to see king penguins on the same ground as sheep was just extraordinary. That moment in the Falklands is indeed memorable. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Sue Gatenby - UK

The buildup was perfect - first visiting the Falklands, Carcass and Saunders Islands, and then on to South Georgia made for great wildlife interaction. We certainly had enough time during the excursions to take great pictures. Weather is always an issue but on our trip we were fortunate to have reasonable good weather and could go on shore on most of our excursions. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2019

Leon Steyl - South Africa

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We loved every minute of it, just wish we could have spent a bit more time in Stanley, it looks so delightfully colonial like belonging to another age.

Travelled: January 2018

Lucien & Marie-Eve - South Africa

Review:

Comfort & Adventure

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Immense Discovery: Falklands, South Georgia & the Peninsula

This fantastic trip covers all the must-see highlights of an extended Antarctic expedition. With 21 nights aboard, you will venture far south past vast icebergs to cross the Antarctic Circle before taking in jaw-dropping king penguin colonies in the wildlife…

  • 23 Days
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Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands In Style

Voyage south in Shackleton’s footsteps, exploring the Southern Ocean's highlights as part of this expansive 20-day adventure. A well-balanced itinerary gives plenty of time in each jaw-dropping location. Explore from the comfort of your sleek purpose-built expedition ship, accompanied by…

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Explore Antarctica, South Georgia and Falklands

On a long voyage with so many days at sea, the journey is made more enjoyable aboard this comfortable, well appointed 4* ship with its capacious cabins and dedicated staff. Choice of 17-23 day departures per season, with optional kayaking…

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Ultimate Antarctica: South Georgia & Antarctic Circle

An epic 23-day voyage which packs in an astonishing 7 days in Antarctica, 4 days in wildlife-rich South Georgia and the Antarctic Circle at 66 degrees south. It's very rare to find a trip combining all three places. Limited departure…

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Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Adventure

With a good choice of departure dates through the season across three medium-sized ships, this 19-22 day trip stands out for its value for money and the broad range of cabin categories available, including Quads, which are…

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Spring Quest to Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia

Setting sail ​early in the season, be aboard ​one of the ​first ship​s to head​ south ​as the Southern Ocean reopens for business​. It's a special time in South Georgia as the beaches are packed with breeding elephant seals, while…

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Destination Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

Join this classic Southern Ocean voyage, with a choice of two 21-day departures in the season. Travel aboard a generously proportioned 134-passenger expeditionary ship, undertake daily landings, with camping and kayaking for the…

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Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands Revealed

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South Georgia & The Falklands In-Depth

Uniquely focused on extensive exploration of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, without heading further south to Antarctica. Spend 8 full days exploring these bountiful sub-Antarctic Islands, brimming with both wildlife and history. Limited to spring and late summer…

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Luxury & fine dining

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Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia in Comfort

Travelling aboard a modern, luxury, custom built expedition ship offering cabins with private balconies, excellent amenities, speed through the water and outstanding food, all you’ve got to do is sit back and enjoy the adventure. The all-inclusive price provides very…

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The Great Adventure: Antarctica and South Georgia

Focusing only on Antarctica and South Georgia, missing out The Falklands, this voyage is both rare and attractive. Sail first to Antarctica and then on to South Georgia at a time when the King penguins are in their greatest numbers.…

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Luxury Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica

For a truly 5 star Southern Ocean experience, this is the voyage to consider. Cosseted aboard the most luxurious, all-inclusive expedition ships currently in Antarctica, enjoy outstanding cuisine, impeccable service and daily guided…

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The Falkland Islands: FAQs

  • When is the best time to go to the Falkland Islands?

    The visitor season on the Falkland Islands typically runs through from October to April. The more favourable months are November to February when the weather is clearer and average temperatures are around 8 degrees centigrade/ 46 fahrenheit, although the weather is still very changeable.

  • What is the best way to get to the Falkland Islands?

    Most people visit the Falkland Islands on an expedition cruise ship in conjunction with a visit to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. The islands take around a day and a half to reach from Ushuaia in Argentina, the main departure port for cruise ships. It is also possible to fly from Chile. 

  • Can I fly to the Falkland Islands?

    There is a weekly flight to from Punta Arenas in Chile to Mount Pleasant near Stanley. The flight departs every Saturday. It is also possible (if more complicated to arrange) to fly direct to the Falkland Islands from the UK on a service operating from RAF Brize Norton.  

  • Do you need a visa to visit?

    In general, cruise ship visitors don’t require a visa for Falkland Islands or to participate in shore excursions. However, visitors arriving by air, or intending to spend time in the Falkland Islands before or after a cruise, may need a visa. If you hold a passport for the USA, Canada, EU countries, Australia or New Zealand and most Asian and South America countries then no visa is required.

Plan your Falkland Islands trip

South Georgia Cruises

​For sheer density of wildlife, majestic scenery and riveting history, South Georgia is a truly world-beating destination. Known as the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean, it’s one of the least visited places on earth – and offers great rewards for those who make their way to its shores.

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